Saturday, 25 September 2010

Dr Jim Swire: 'I am proud to have met Megrahi ... he is the 271st victim of Lockerbie'

[This is the headline over an article published today on the website of the Mirror newspaper. It reads in part:]

They are two men from wildly different backgrounds - but they share the most extraordinary bond.

Dr Jim Swire last week came face to face with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of killing 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.

Jim's daughter Flora was one of the victims, killed the day before her 24th birthday - but, instead of feeling hatred and anger, he embraced Megrahi.

"We are friends," says Jim, 74. "I believe he is the 271st victim of Lockerbie. We know enough about the other to be confident to know we're trying to achieve the same thing - a re-examination of the verdict."

Megrahi, 58, was convicted of mass murder and jailed for life in 2001. But last cancer, he was released on compassionate grounds. Jim, who heard all the evidence at Megrahi's trial, is convinced he's innocent.

Since first meeting in a Scottish prison in 2008, the pair have struck up an unlikely friendship that has outraged many of the relatives of those killed over Lockerbie. (...)

Megrahi was in the middle of a second appeal against his conviction when Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's Justice Minister, freed him in August last year.

Megrahi decided to drop the appeal, although it could have continued in his absence and even after his death.

Jim now wants the case reopened to get to the truth of who was behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the single worst terrorist atrocity on British soil. "We met seeking a common goal - the re-examination of the available evidence which led to a verdict we believe was reached under political pressure rather than the rules of justice," says Jim.

That task now falls upon Scotland and those who believe, like me, that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice.

"I am entirely satisfied this man was not guilty as charged and that there is much more credible evidence that points to Syria and Iran." (...)

Flora Swire, who wanted to follow in her GP father's footsteps, had been accepted to study medicine at Cambridge when she died, flying to New York to spend Christmas with her boyfriend.

"She would be 45 now," says Jim. "We always feel the gap. Whenever we are together, at birthdays, weddings or Christmas, there's always somebody missing." In her memory, Jim planted Flora's Wood, near their former family home in Bromsgrove, Worcs, which sat on 17 acres. There are thousands of trees, a silent sanctuary shaped in a huge F. Unsurprisingly, Jim was filled with hatred for Megrahi and Libya when charges were first brought.

But after sitting through an unconvincing trial, Jim changed his mind. "I first met him in Greenock Prison, just before Christmas 2008," he says. "By then he was already uncomfortable sitting in a chair - he was known to have cancer in his spine and pelvis.

"I remember feeling glad that he had agreed to see me and by then I had strong doubts in my mind that he was the man who did it, but I wanted to see for myself, to look him in the eye."

The turning point came when Megrahi handed Jim an envelope. "He had been to the prison shop and bought a Christmas card," recalls Jim. "He wrote on it, 'To Dr Swire and family, please pray for me and my family.' Now that's a pretty remarkable thing for a devout Muslim to give to a Christian just before the Christian festival of Christmas.

"His attitude strongly reinforced my belief that this was not the guy. Imagine being cooped up in an alien prison for something you hadn't done.

Gift "I feel sorry for him. He has spent 10 years of his life locked up, under false pretences I believe, during which time he has developed this rampant cancer." (...)

The fact that Megrahi can now die in dignity surrounded by loved ones gives Jim great comfort but he still wants to lodge a posthumous appeal to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

"If Megrahi's relatives do not wish to push for an appeal, we will," he says.

"I don't want my daughter's death to be remembered against a verdict I think is false. I want to know who did kill her."

At the end of their hour together an exhausted Megrahi began to fade, his eyes falling heavy.

Jim got up out of his seat and clutched his friend's hands. "He is a very sick man and was getting tired," says Jim.

"So I said my goodbyes - maybe I'll see him again before he goes."


  1. "That task now falls upon Scotland and those who believe, like me, that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice."

    Very simply put and therefore all the more powerful.

  2. MISSION LOCKERBIE, sorry in "Babylon english":

    The dropping of the successful promising appeal was the central part for the freedom of Mr Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi!
    Behind the surprising release of the innocent Mr Al Megrahi, did not stand an "Oil Deal" nor a "Prisoner Transfer Agreement" with Libya, but the FEAR Scotland's and Great Britain's, before the truth result and open secrets of the current Appeals (miscarriage of justice) and the following damages of prestige and a possible compensation charge from Libya up to 40 billion US$!

    In the same context belong the promise of Secretary of Justice Kenny MacAskill sins 8th Sept. 2009, to release papers connected with the recommendation of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's (SCCRC) findings that the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for blowing up Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 may have been unsafe.
    The promise was not kept until today why ? There is no excuse for MacAskill to hold back the files...

    On 28th August 2009 (edition of The Herald):
    +++ Mr al Gaddafi praised Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, who freed Mr Al Megrahi on compassionate grounds, as "a great man", and said his decision had opened the way for future business.+++

    Mr. MacAskill please make further in such a way and open you first the secret papers of the SCCR'Commission. Many of us are waiting for it...
    What we needed was an appeal, and now that will not go ahead, we need now a public inquiry.

    Today as can be proved: neither Mr. Al Megrahi, Libya, AirMalta, MST-13 timerfragment (PT/35) and Airport Frankfurt have to do nothing with PanAm 103 bombing!

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

  3. The link to the Mirror article doesn't work.

    This one is good.

  4. From the Sunday Mail article:

    "But the new development will increase pressure on the Scottish government."

    This is the Sunday Mail/Daily Record group we are dealing with here. The article is only about the above sentence from it.

    There is nothing in the article whatsoever from "senior government sources". Words like Megrahi's "recovery" don't belong in the piece. There has been NO recovery. Its nonsense from start to finish but useful to use against the SNP.

    I would go with Jim Swire's account of how Megrahi currently is. And he doesn't sound a well man.

  5. On further reading of that Daily Record/Sunday Mail article I referenced earlier, I am disappointed to see it was written by the freelancer Nabila Ramdani. She should know better, being knowledgeable about Arab affairs, to write a bit of sensationalist garbage. I suppose she knows what sells in the UK though, and needs to make sales...

  6. Go to: Type this address into the top bar on the computor.